If you like street art, you’re probably familiar with the enigmatic, anonymous artist known as Banksy. His wonderfully satirical, sardonic, subversive and increasingly political images including “Girl with a Balloon”, “Naked Man” “Love is in the air” have been gracing walls and buildings everywhere from Bristol to Beirut for decades. And today Banksy street art commands multi million pound prices. But if you can’t afford to buy one – and lets face it, who amongst us could? – you can still admire it if you’re in Rome this summer as the Palazzo Cipolla Museum is launching one of the largest exhibitions of his work to date. War, Capitalism and Liberty kicks off on 24th May running through to the 4th September so let’s take a look at what is in store when you visit.
Who is Banksy?
Who knows?! Despite several tabloid attempts to unmask him Banksy remains satisfyingly anonymous and part of me is actually glad as it maintains an aura of magic around him. Knowing who he is would burst that bubble and, for me as a fan, would ruin things. I hope we never find out!
Banksy street art
What we do know is that he started out as a stencil graffiti artist in Bristol in the United Kingdom, influenced by another Bristolian, 3D, who went on to form Massive Attack. Bristol was clearly the place to be in the 1980s!
What set him apart from the casual spray painter was the way he tackled different contemporary issues such as war, politics, animal welfare and immigration with an enormous tongue wedge firmly in his cheek. Some motifs like rats and monkeys appear repeatedly representing those without a voice. But underneath his cheeky humour and provocative designs, he was quietly, pointedly pointing out society’s hypocrisies to tweak our consciences, if we still have one, and make us think.
He’s now considered the world’s best street artist with global influence on the urban art movement and is probably the most notorious but least known artists alive. Fans hail him as an artistic genius not least because no other artist in western art has managed to bring such important societal issues as the refugee crisis and West Bank Barrier to the attention of a global audience.
And his art can be found around the globe from the UK to Italy and Palestine to Timbuktu in Mali. Keep your eyes peeled, though, as he rarely signs pieces anymore, enhancing the air of mystery.
War, Capitalism and Liberty : the exhibition
This summer’s exhibition in Rome includes around 120 original paintings, prints, unique sculptures, creations and rare pieces from private collections, many of which have never been seen publically before. It won’t, however, include any works cut off buildings or removed from the street.
The retrospective of Banksy street art will span his entire career and promises to be a groundbreaking display of the different formats, techniques and topics tackled by him, demonstrating the sheer scale and scope of his work over the last 30 years.
From his black and white stenciled sandwich board-wearing monkeys declaring ‘Laugh now but one day we’ll be in charge’ to the unsettling image of ‘Kids on Guns’ the exhibition, like Banksy, examines war, consumerism and politics aiming to make you really think.
Exit through the gift shop!
Personally, I’ve been a fan of Banksy’s clever, thought-provoking artwork for around 20 years and am thrilled that War, Capitalism and Liberty will bring together some of his lesser known pieces. And if its anything like as good as previous shows, including when he unofficially took over the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in the summer of 2009, fans and art lovers will be queuing round the block for a chance to enjoy so much Banksy street art in one place. I’d love to know what you think of Banksy, his art or even graffiti in general so leave me a comment with your favourite artwork or painting and why you love it. In the meantime, make sure to book early for this one, I suspect it’s going to be a popular attraction in Rome this summer! See you there!
War, Capitalism & Liberty is a non-profit exhibition conceived and promoted by Fondazione Terzo Pilastro – Italia e Mediterraneo and curated by Stefano Antonelli, Francesca Mezzano & Acoris Andipa.
Exhibition website here http://www.warcapitalismandliberty.org
Dates : The show runs from 24 May – 4 September 2016
Venue address : Palazzo Cipolla, 320 Via del Corso, 00186 Rome.
Tickets cost €13.50 (€9.50 for reduced entry) and can be pre-booked here
Opening hours : Doors open at 11am with last entry at 7pm, closed Mondays. Pre-booked tickets are for timed entry so please check your ticket as entry may be refused if you are late.
PLEASE NOTE : The artist known as Banksy is not associated or involved in this museum show and all the artworks in this exhibition are from international private collectors.